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Photo by Wendy Davis

The Iroquois County Board IT Committee sits down with Michael Taber of Area Wide to talk about weekly onsite visits.

The Iroquois County Board Finance and IT committees met Thursday morning.

The FY20 budget is still being reviewed by the finance committee members.

Committee chairman Michael McTaggart said, “There’s still a $191,000 shortfall in the general fund we need to bridge.” There have been no revisions to any of the proposed budgets submitted from the department heads.

The plan is set a meeting in the next few weeks to start making cuts to get to a balanced FY20 budget.

9-1-1 Director Eric Raymond explained to the committee the ETSB met Wednesday and it still doesn’t have a budget to submit. There’s still questions on how much funding will come from each of the entities for joint dispatch. It’s requesting $167,500 be provided from the county, city of Watseka and ETSB. He said there’s concern with setting a number because the telecommunicators’ contracts will go into negotiations this year “and that number could go anywhere”.

Raymond also said there’s a request proposed in his budget asking for $125,000 from the public safety tax fund to help pay for NextGen 9-1-1. Last year at budget time ETSB gave a larger portion for joint dispatch to help the city and county, noting it would like to be helped out in FY20 because of the required NextGen 9-1-1 equipment installation.

McTaggart asked why Iroquois County couldn’t combine its 9-1-1 center with Ford or Kankakee counties?

“Combining 9-1-1 centers is challenging at best,” said Raymond. He said the logistics may not work, due to the current staffing and the way things are done within certain centers.

Also at the meeting, Raymond pointed out the grant to help fund NextGen 9-1-1 was approved, and the amount was increased from $133,000 to $154,000.

Sheriff Derek Hagen said he’s been talking with representatives from one of the county’s communities which is asking for the county to start covering it to eliminate the community’s own police force. He said the community would cover the cost of having the deputy there.

Iroquois Economic Development Association Executive Director Ken Barragree updated the committee on the development of the new T&D building in the old Big R next to Casey’s in Watseka. It was the recipient of the county’s first revolving loan in its new incarnation.

Production of the gun cabinets has started — there are four different styles — and they’re still moving in, he said. Phase one is done. Eleven jobs have been filled, so far.

“They’ve made their second loan payment already.”

At the IT committee meeting, Area Wide’s Michael Taber updated the committee on how it’s been going with the weekly onsite visits.

He said they’ve been “a success”, and the department heads have said they’ve been appreciative of knowing someone would be in the building regularly.

He said they haven’t been able to address the maintenance issues, as was originally planned, because employees have presented a number of technical needs.

This was being done on a trial basis, but at this meeting the committee approved keeping the weekly onsite visits going through the end of the fiscal year, Nov. 30. The cost will continue to be $70 an hour and the Area Wide representative will be at the county’s buildings for 6.5 hours each visit.

Tabor noted that Area Wide has increased its standard hourly rate to $100 an hour beginning in January.

Finally, the committee instructed Taber to come up with hard figures on the costs of the projects the county needs done, for example servers, telephones, and a new website.